Wild Speculation Abound! BAA Announces Tentative October Date for the 2021 Boston Marathon

#1
https://www.baa.org/fall-2021-boston-marathon-date-selected

Yesterday's extraordinarily cautious announcement by the BAA has stirred some interesting conversations among runners about the possibility of large field races returning by the fall.

While I am all aboard the optimism train that medium field races can safely return, I don't think anyone can currently predict what is going to happen with large field races with any sort of accuracy. This will almost certainly depend upon the effective wide-scale distribution of vaccines and the estimates there are all over the map. On this part I will say that I am buoyed by Dr. Fauci's recent comments which suggest that supply will begin to outpace demand (as such that any healthy adult will be eligible to receive a dose) by late Spring.

Back to running...

Assuming that the 2021 Boston race happens, I think the most interesting discussion is what sort of qualifying time actually gets you an entry? The qualifying window for 2021 began in September 2018 and they haven't exactly clarified when it closes... 2020 obviously didn't see many races but I would wager to say those few which did take place saw a larger percentage of BQs. Anyone crazy enough to run last year was likely not just a weekend warrior but rather someone doing so for the express purpose of running a qualifying time. I think the other more telling factor will be just how large the field size actually ends up being. Boston typically runs a field of 30,000 runners. If London is any indication (they have recently trumpeted their intention to have as many as 50,000 in-person participants for 2021) this may not change, but I have a suspicion that this number will be somewhat reduced. The BAA has a really neat page on the history of the qualifying standard for the race and, with the recent change (increase in difficulty) to the qualifying standards, it has dropped back down to around BQ-2 for an entry. I have seen a lot of doomsayers claiming that you will need a BQ-10 to even stand a chance, but I think those folks underestimate how much more exponentially difficult it is to exceed your standard. I wish the BAA published data on how many people register on day one (BQ-20), day three (BQ-10), day five (BQ-5), or the remainder (BQ). I wonder which group represents the largest percentage of runners at the race?

Having said all of that, I am going to take a county fair guess at this and say that BQ-6 gets you in for 2021. Bigger qualification window and (my speculated) smaller field just seems to push the guess in this direction.

The other fun discussion has been the crowded race calendar. This now completes the 2021 WMM Calendar. You've got Berlin on 9/26, London a week later on 10/3, Chicago a week later on 10/10, Boston a day later on 10/11, Tokyo a week later on 10/17, and NYC mercifully two weeks later on 11/7. I have seen folks seriously complaining about the logistical impossibility of having to run Chicago, board a plane to get to an expo, and then run Boston the following day. My suggestion there was "maybe don't run both this year?" but I always like to see people trying for the impossible. One more rabbit hole to fall down is how this calendar will shake out for those professional runners taking a stab at the WMM series prize purse.

I am very selfishly hoping that my smaller race goes forward in June so that I can take a stab at a BQ there and enjoy Berlin and London at a cruising speed... time will tell!
 
#2
You know I was either going to do Boston 2020 or run ATL 2020 (with the trials there) and made the fantastic choice of the latter and ran a -26 min BQ. So if the field size is reduced, I may actually take a shot at Boston 2021. If they have it down to 10,000 runners or so, it might be a once-in-a-lifetime unique experience. Given my only Boston running was from 2010, but it definitely had some "giant parade" aspects that you wouldn't have with a smaller field.

Enjoyed Atlanta so much, that wherever the trials are in 2024, my training group is in for the race weekend. (Edited to hoping for a nice city to host 2024 OT Marathon.)

Berlin and London would be cool experiences!
 
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#3
I'll be inclined to believe it when the Tokyo Olympics and Gold Coast or Berlin Marathon (full field) happen first. Expanded vaccine roll-out should stymie new infection and death numbers, yet the mutations are the wild card. For a combination of factors, I plan to not race CIM for a BQ this year or even next. Even if Boston proceeds as normal (or limited field) this autumn, the demand for the 2022 and 2023 races seems like it will be through the roof even with just the 2020 cancelation; cancel both 2020 and 2021 and in the subsequent year or two I'd imagine the race could fill within 30 minutes of entries opening. Heck, it could close out inside 10 minutes! My eggs will be in a different autumn basket, meanwhile.

Boston in the autumn could be really cool, you could turn it into an extended vacation and head up to VT, NH, ME for fall color post-race. On the other hand, if I run Boston I would want it to be with the full Patriots Day experience. Yes, even if that means Yuki/Desi weather conditions.

FYI, LA Olympics are scheduled for 2028, it's Paris in 2024. It'll be interesting to see where the '24 OT end up; '20 put ATC deep in the red so it could be back to major marathons (as in '08) like NYC, Chicago, or Boston which can foot the bill more easily.

Remember, the Olympic Marathon is also part of WMM this year.
 
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#4
You know I was either going to do Boston 2020 or run ATL 2020 (with the trials there) and made the fantastic choice of the latter and ran a -26 min BQ. So if the field size is reduced, I may actually take a shot at Boston 2021. If they have it down to 10,000 runners or so, it might be a once-in-a-lifetime unique experience. Given my only Boston running was from 2010, but it definitely had some "giant parade" aspects that you wouldn't have with a smaller field.

Enjoyed Atlanta so much, that wherever the trials are in 2024, my training group is in for the race weekend. With the Olympics in Los Angeles, I guess having the Trials in Los Angeles in 2024 would make sense to give them a chance to practice set-up for the Olympic course and have the Team USA qualifiers with some practice on the Elite course.

Berlin and London would be cool experiences!
Oh ya you're 💯 correct. 2024 Olympics in Paris! I guess they're is hope for a shorter trip for a Marathon weekend. Nashville or Indy would be nice.
 
#5
https://www.baa.org/baa-announces-virtual-fall-boston-marathon-open-first-70000-entrants

It looks like in addition to the live marathon, Boston will also be hosting a supplemental virtual marathon open to the first 70,000 registrants. More importantly we have now got our first confirmation that the field size for the in-person marathon will be smaller than normal.

Field size for the in-person Boston Marathon, scheduled to take place on Monday, October 11, has not yet been finalized but will be smaller than previous years in order to enhance participant and public safety. The B.A.A. will strive to achieve a field size composition as close to previous years as possible, with approximately 80% of the field being comprised of qualified entrants and 20% being comprised of invitational entries, including charity program runners.
For reference, field sizes have floated around the 30,000 mark from 2015 onwards.

I am eager to see what shape 2021 and 2022 take, particularly when their qualification windows will begin and end. Realistically I will have one opportunity to run a BQ in what-should-be the 2022 window. I am hoping that 2021 deflates some of the pent up demand for entries... Boston will ultimately be my sixth and final Major
 
#6
https://www.baa.org/baa-announces-virtual-fall-boston-marathon-open-first-70000-entrants

It looks like in addition to the live marathon, Boston will also be hosting a supplemental virtual marathon open to the first 70,000 registrants. More importantly we have now got our first confirmation that the field size for the in-person marathon will be smaller than normal.



For reference, field sizes have floated around the 30,000 mark from 2015 onwards.

I am eager to see what shape 2021 and 2022 take, particularly when their qualification windows will begin and end. Realistically I will have one opportunity to run a BQ in what-should-be the 2022 window. I am hoping that 2021 deflates some of the pent up demand for entries... Boston will ultimately be my sixth and final Major

I have a -26 min qualifier I'm sitting on. I hope that is enough to get into the limited field.
 
#7
@RunTommy! I thought you might be interested to see some tablenapkin math posted in one of the World Marathon Major's groups I follow...



As it turns out, your BQ-26 should be good enough to get you in provided that the field size is larger than 4,000 runners ;)
 
#10
So that BQ-15 seems to be a bit of aggressive estimate but I wanted to pass it along. Digging around on other forums it seems that the data from 2020 for entrants was as follows...
  • 4,051 Qualifiers met their standard by at least 20 minutes
  • 6,772 Qualifiers met their standard by at least 10 minutes
  • 6,948 Qualifiers met their standard by at least 5 minutes
  • 5,885 Qualifiers met their standard by at least 1 minute, 39 seconds
  • 471 Qualifiers were accepted based upon finishing 10 or more consecutive Boston Marathons
Apparently 4,000 of the 20,000 spots will go to charity entrants, so that leaves approximately 16,000 spots available for qualifiers. Looking at the breakdown above, this likely puts the cut-off around BQ-6

This is still just another guess though and I suppose the major variable will be what, if any, impact travel restrictions will have on international entrants at that point. I have a friend in Canada who is entering and he is not certain he will be vaccinated by that point.
 
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